In response to the necessary closures and call for self-isolation, the Alfond Youth & Community Center, in Waterville, is getting creative in finding ways to continue serving community members now unable to walk through their doors on a daily basis.
As schools began to close their doors on Monday, March 16, the AYCC was forced to follow suit. To the question:What about all the evening meals served to 250 at risk youth populating our programs, Ken Walsh, CEO rallied with a far reaching solution. Starting that Monday, the AYCC skeleton staff, lead by kitchen Manager Shawn Forkey, and a group of amazing volunteers led by Volunteer Coordinator Josie Skelley, began preparing 1,000 dinners and evening snacks daily and delivering them to community members curbside, not only at their own facility but five additional locations: Waterville’s South End Teen Center and North End Boys & Girls Club, the Fabian Oil Parking Lot, in Oakland, Fort Halifax Park, in Winslow, and at the Fairfield Community Center.
Families simply drive up to the servers, tell them how many meals they need, and are handed that number of individually packaged dinners with five nutritional components each, no questions asked. And on Thursday and Fridays families also receive weekend meal supplements at the AYCC location. The response has been overwhelming, as evidenced by this one of many such Facebook posts, “This is amazing! This world is so crazy right now! This just filled my heart! With three kids, two missing school this has helped lesson my stress a bit! Don’t always have to worry about dinner! And the staff distributing was super friendly! AYCC is amazing! So happy my kids get care here.”
Four local businesses immediately jumped on board to help fund the meals program. The Proper Pig, in Waterville, offered affordable curbside meals and donated half of the proceeds, which was matched by GHM Insurance. Amici’s Cucina is continuing to offer curbside meals every Thursday – Saturday and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Free Meals Program, and Campbell’s True Value Hardware is matching the funds dollar for dollar. The cost of the program is $25,000 per week and the AYCC is committed to providing meals for as long as necessary. If you would like to join the growing list of donors making this service possible visit clubaycc.org to make a donation.
In addition, the Center is responding to the childcare needs of healthcare workers by offering the MaineGeneral Emergency Childcare Camp, which started on March 23, running from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., every weekday for 125 youth ages 3 to 12 years old. Participating kids will be served breakfast, morning snack, Lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner, and participate in small group activities throughout the facility that includes: swimming, art, computer fun, homework lab, gym games, Gronk Zone fitness and wellness activities and outdoor play.
“We are so concerned about the welfare of our afterschool kids that can no longer take advantage of our in-house services,” explains CEO Ken Walsh. “We are reaching out to them every day to make sure their needs are being met.” Youth Advancement Coordinator Bobbi Pelletier has been placing Well Care calls to every family and Facebook live sessions have included How to Draw with Ms. Jesika, Story Time with Avery, and The Name Challenge with John, as well as online wellness classes (Hips with John, Legs with Maggie & Sawyer, Enhance Fitness with Jamie), Coffee Talk Community Chats every morning at 10 a.m., and emailed packages full of resources, educational, creative and enrichment materials.
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